I read a brief, interesting article online today about Valentine’s Day related to grief and loss. Most people think about those who have experienced the loss of a loved one having to deal with the first major holidays such as Thanksgiving or Christmas or commemorating the first birthday following the death. However for the grieving individual even the small holidays may bring back memories that cause a tsunami of emotions that are unexpected.
I know that for me, personally, the first Halloween was difficult because it had always been an especially fun holiday in our house and my son had enjoyed it so much. Five months after his death I walked into a craft store, saw the Halloween display and had feelings of gut-wrenching, unexpected grief. I had to immediately leave the store and sat in my car in tears. Now almost seven years later I can remember the holidays with my son with happy memories. I still will remember him on Valentine's Day and think about previous Valentine's Days we spent together but there will be more smiles and less tears.
Grief is not a nice linear progression. I have heard grief explained like a walk along a beach. Sometimes the waves of grief merely come up and lap across your feet, at other times the waves swell up and almost carry you away. Then there are times when the wave is so big and engulfing that it surprises you with its intensity and knocks you down and takes your breath away. The longer you walk along the beach…or the more time into your grief journey the more you are able to expect the waves and ride them out. It does get easier to ride the waves.